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Paper Covers Rock Library Binding – June 14, 2011
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Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2011:
"Hubbard has a superb handle on her boarding school setting...A powerful, ambitious debut."
Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2011:
"The story builds to a climax that will have readers on edge. It could be read alongside many of the classics that deal with friendship and loyalty, as well as deceit...Those who are looking for something to ponder will enjoy this compelling read."
Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2011:
"Hubbard’s characters are confounding and intriguing...The traditional, buttoned-up boarding school setting makes the perfect backdrop to this tense dictation of secrets, lies, manipulation, and the ambiguity of honor."
Starred Review, Booklist, July 1, 2011:
"Both plotting and characters are thoroughly crafted in this stellar first novel. The poetry that Hubbard produces from Alex’s pen is brilliant, and the prose throughout is elegant in its simplicity. Reminiscent of John Knowles’ classic coming-of-age story, A Separate Peace (1959), this novel introduces Hubbard as a bright light to watch on the YA literary scene."
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Michael L. Printz Honor Award-winning And We Stay is Jenny Hubbard’s second novel. Her first, Paper Covers Rock, was a William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist. A former English teacher, Jenny writes books and plays in her hometown of Slisbury, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, a high school math teacher, and their rescue dog, Oliver. You can find Jenny on Facebook, follow her (and Oliver) on Twitter at @HubbardWrites, and visit her website at jennyhubbard.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
This book is a breath of fresh air in the YA genre that is so often a wasteland of trendy romance and/or bloodthirsty, amoral thrillers. It gives one heart to know that teen readers have an offering like this on the bookshelf. The story is told by Alex, a junior at a boys' boarding school. Alex has just witnessed the drowning death of a friend. The book is written as his purported journal as he struggles with what may have really happened that day, his feelings for his English teacher, Miss Dovecott, and the hidden agenda of his best friend who was there that day too.
Hubbard's young male hero is fully human in his range of emotions--he has his lusty moments, as well as his feelings of guilt. The reviewer in Kirkus doubts that the 16 year old could write with the eloquence which Hubbard gives him, but I don't. Teenagers are perhaps MORE in touch with their eloqent poet-selves than are older people, it seems to me. I believed Alex's every word. This book rang true. And it rang deep. I couldn't put it down--and--can you believe it, no one had to speak in valley-girl slang, have random sex, get bitten by a vampire, or burned to death. It is a character-driven book.
And it is also a thoroughly contemporary book in its structure--the short chapters and sub-chapters were non-intrusive and seem natural to the story, but also give it a very living, breathing, facebooking, twittering edge to the read.
John Gardner, that great critic who wrote On Moral Fiction, would be proud of this first novel by Jenny Hubbard. He would stand and cheer for her. He would say thanks for believing in the YA audience and not talking down to them. Thanks for standing up for real literature, literature that shows us how to live, how to think deeply about write and wrong. Hubbard no doubt learned from writing this book, and we learn from her. To her, I'd say, keep teaching!
I had chills reading this novel. As I neared the end, I had the distinct feeling that I was in the presence of greatness, a book that will leave an indelible mark on literature for years to come. From the beautiful language, to the clever turns of phrase, to the deep exploration of classic issues like guilt, deceit and loyalty, PAPER COVERS ROCK truly has all the hallmarks of a classic.
This is a book that will stand the test of time and will stand alongside novels like THE CHOCOLATE WAR and A SEPARATE PEACE.
Boarding school Junior Alex Stromm is traumatized by witnessing the drowning death of his classmate. He has a crush in his young English teacher, Miss Dovecott, who encourages his reading and creative writing.
Additionally his "friend"'Glen, also present is pressuring Alex to "mess with" their young teacher, the first adult on the scene of the accident.
PAPER COVERS ROCK is Alex's journal, complete with some essays and poetry. There are a lot if literary references, which I'm not sure would be prevalent in a teenage boy's writing. At times the journal appeared too cerebral to be authentic. I liked Alex's character. He started off as a good kid, lacking confidence. A follower. Against his better judgment, he followed Glenn's bad example attempting to protect themselves from what Glenn believes Miss Dovecott knows. Alex reveals pieces of the drowning throughout the story. I expected a bigger payoff.
I graduated from HS in the early 80s, the era PAPER COVERS ROCK occurs, so while I enjoyed the cultural references, younger readers probably won't appreciate it understand references to The Love Boat or Fantasy Island as Saturday night pastimes. I do recommend this novel, for those interested in a slower paced, more cerebral read.
- Paul Cumbo, Author of Boarding Pass